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Exams and assessment

Exceptional circumstances

The University realises that there may be circumstances that affect your ability to study and complete your assessments, and so we have developed an approach to support you, in consultation with your Student Union Presidents.

What are exceptional circumstances?

Exceptional circumstances are unforeseen personal, medical or family problems that are outside of your control and affect your performance in assessments. In order to support you in your studies, the University operates an Exceptional Circumstances Policy and process, where you can request extra time for your assessment in order to mitigate against any adverse circumstances you may be experiencing.

This is an example of some of the circumstances under which you may claim, but this is not an exhaustive list – please check the Exceptional Circumstances Policy:

  • Unforeseen illness, which is sudden and severe in nature
  • Bereavement due to the death of a close family member or friend
  • Being a victim of crime
  • Pregnancy
  • Significant caring responsibilities – e.g. for a child, or for a family member of partner with a disability or health condition
  • Family crisis impacting upon your work
  • Legal proceedings, e.g. jury service or attendance as a witness, plaintiff or defendant
  • Unforeseen changes to working patterns for part-time students.

Exceptional Circumstances Policy: Section 16: Exceptional Circumstances Policy 2021-22 (PDF 0.4 MB)

How can I claim?

Self-certification for one week

You choose to self-certify for an extension of up to seven days. This can apply to more than one assignment if the deadlines fall within the same week. You can self-certify once a semester, and this can be used for physical and mental health. It is designed to help you recover from a short-term illness where it is not appropriate to seek medical advice.

Should you suffer from a bereavement, you can self-certify for a period of seven days without having to provide any evidence. This does not impact on the once per semester self-certification for short-term illness.

Apply for self-certification: Exceptional Circumstances Claim Form (DOC, 66.8 kB)

For extensions of more than one week (and up to three weeks)

If you need more than seven days, or have already self-certified on one occasion in the current semester, you can apply through the exceptional circumstances process.

This process requires you to provide evidence along with your application from an independent, third-party expert (e.g. GP, health professional, police). You must detail the impact the circumstances you are experiencing have had on your studies and why you need the further time to be able to complete your assessment. This is important, as it is this information that helps the University determine the severity of your circumstances and decide whether to approve your claim.

If you do not have evidence, you will be contacted and given five working days to provide it. If you do not provide it before the deadline, your claim will be declined.

Your extension will be granted in weeks (one week, two weeks, three weeks) up to a maximum of three weeks. The three weeks could have been granted through one or more claims or through extensions from your Learning Support Plan. Extensions from your Learning Support Plan will count towards this three-week maximum. This means that if you have an extension of three weeks through your Learning Support Plan, any claim upheld through the Exceptional Circumstances procedure will mean your assessment will be deferred to the next assessment period.

Apply for an extension through the exceptional circumstances process: Exceptional Circumstances Claim Form (DOC, 66.8 kB)

If you need longer than three weeks to complete an assessment

If you need more than three weeks to complete your assessment due to the severity of your circumstances, your assessment will be deferred to the next assessment period. This will be assessed on the evidence you provide with your claim and your explanation of the impact upon your ability to study and complete your assessment. Any claim for a deferral of an assessment must be supported by strong evidence that clearly shows serious exceptional circumstances.

This will work as follows:

For an assessment falling within:It will be deferred to:
Semester 1 Semester 1 resit period
Semester 1 resit period Semester 2
Semester 2 Semester 2 resit period
Semester 2 resit period October conditional progression
October conditional progression Semester 1

You should note that on having an assessment deferred, particularly resits in Semester 2, that you may not be able to progress to your next level of study as expected. You will be advised of this in the outcome of your claim.

Apply for an extension through the exceptional circumstances process: Exceptional Circumstances Claim Form (DOC, 66.8 kB)

How do I complete the form?

In consideration of your claim, we need to understand the impact on your studies of the circumstances on which you are basing your claim. This is as important as the evidence you provide and will be used to either approve or decline your claim. If you do not give enough information on the impact on you and your ability to complete assignments, you may be asked to supply more information and this will delay your claim. You claim may also be declined on this basis, or a shorter duration than that requested may be approved.

Download the Exceptional Circumstances claim form: Exceptional Circumstances Claim Form (DOC, 66.8 kB)

You should submit your completed form to your School Administrative Unit when it is complete.

When can I claim?

You should claim as soon as you know your ability to submit your assessment to deadline has been affected. You must claim before, or within 24 hours of the deadline. Any claims received once 24 hours from your deadline has passed will be automatically declined.

When will I hear if my claim has been approved?

Please give as much time as possible before the assignment deadline to apply – if you apply on the day of, or a day or two before, your deadline, you may not hear in time to know whether your extension has been approved. You should continue to work on your assignment whilst you await the outcome of your claim, as we cannot guarantee that it will be approved.

You should hear from us within three to five working days.

What should I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms?

If you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or have received a positive test result, you must notify the University through the absence form. You must also ensure that you follow current guidance about self-isolation.

If you are unwell, and are unable to attend online teaching, you must notify the University through the absence form. If you need extensions on your assessments due to being unwell from symptoms of COVID-19, then please submit an exceptional circumstances form. You should submit evidence of a positive test result with your application.

What if I need longer to complete my programme?

You can apply for an extension to your period of study if you have completed all teaching for your final year of studies but have been unable to complete the programme's final assessments in the normal timescale due to exceptional circumstances. Make sure you give the detail on this form as to how the exceptional circumstances have impacted on your ability to study.

You can apply for a programme extension if you wish to request an extension of more than 3 weeks to your expected programme end date.

Applying for a programme extension: the policy and claim form

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